This post was written as a mix of 3 emails I had sent during the week we were in Australia, then edited and added to when we got home. Plenty of photos. Enjoy!

I also put a video up of the trip at: https://youtu.be/I6L01kd_9g0

We left Charlotte on a Tuesday afternoon, arrived in LAX at 7pm, layover till 11pm LA time, then we lost a day with the 16 hour flight to Brisbane, and arrived in Mooloolaba at 6:30am on Thursday September 1. Wow, what a flight! When travelling this long haul, always pack a Clean Bottle and your own drink mixes/snacks to be on mentally and physically!! Gina took a while to learn what day and time it was (and I think she never got the handle of it). Settled in nicely thanks and after a deep good night sleep last night, this morning’s workout felt great and we are refreshed. We are 15 hours ahead and the weather is so much more comfortable than in Charlotte – 55-75 degrees, ocean breeze, cloudy but sunny too. People drive on the left here but our travel agency crew (www.endurancesportstravel.com) has about 40 other athletes here and shuttle us wherever we need to go. Biking on left is funny and luckily this morning our hotel is by the shore so a bike lane is present.  Coffee is REAL strong which is a good thing, especially yesterday when we got here and we had been traveling some 30 hours. We did manage to “sleep” a few on the plane from LA to here. Food is good and just like home, as we shopped in local Aldi (yes – they also have everything similar stores to home) and we can do our cooking and such in our hotel room efficiency. Yum peanut butter/bananas, cereal, the usual. Overall, we planned and adjusted everything with great precision. Thanks also to Gina for top notch Ironsherpa control too! We have today to relax more, as we checked in yesterday and I got my gear bag and The Black Widow from TriBike Transport (www.tribiketransport.com), the company that transports them to big races all over  which meant not hassles with putting it together, travel box, and all.

I’ve been posting on Twitter @teammc1 – no journal on www.markcarbone.com till Monday

Gina tweets also on @ironsherpa1 but she has a Facebook page under Regina Carbone

The swag was phenomenal and wait till AFTER it’s over yo till you sport it. 

Well here it is! Day before race day. All is set to go, got the last quick workout in, fine tune the mind and body. Gina and I got a good 2 mile walk in before having a good breakfast on the patio. With some sun views (photo). Today is the day to check in my gear and bike (photo), then we get some more time to relax here before heading to church for Mass a few miles away. We got some pasta and chicken cooked up for dinner, then it’s bed and try to get some sleep before the 3:30am wake up. That hasn’t been a problem for us since Sunrise is before 6 am and sunset is 5:30!

Yesterday we enjoyed just relaxing and avoiding all the hustle in the race area. Got in another swim here in the salt water pool and Gina took a good nap after she swam a bit. The weather is so comfortable – 60 degrees in the morning and highs in the 75 range. A little windy from the ocean but manageable. Gina also got to soak her feet in the Pacific finally. Just enjoying some peace and quiet with the sound of the wind and ocean waves.

Tidbits: Currency here is similar to ours but it’s value is only slightly less than ours. It’s in dollars but the paper and coins are different. A 50 cent piece is like 5x the size of a $2 coin!
Sports here is nothing but rugby and cricket. Serious. No ESPN here. Just rugby coverage. And we were watching some women’s game named Netball which is like a cross between ultimate frisbee and basketball. Most people here in the area where we are by the beach surf too. Fact is people got surfboards everywhere. Very active community. Watching TV was interesting, we had what was basic cable, but the shows are same in concept just with different hosts. Music that we did hear was very 80′s retro which I didn’t mind. Gina expected more country but didn’t hear at all. Kept it Brooklyn-ise as much as I could regardless.
Getting use to all the metrics isn’t bad either – road signs in kilometers, weight in kilograms, and of course Celsius (been 15-25 all week). Old school math yo! And the toilets – 2 button operation, no handle, which I am guessing was flush left for #1, flush right for #2. I can’t confirm that but genius if it is for water conservation. The coffee is strong cause it’s all espresso roasted and the rest instant. Brought back memories of when I was an amateur java drinker and my Nescafe habit. Also when I biked around Europe with St. Stan’s in EuroCycle 2001 .
Otherwise, just enjoying our honeymoon long due and can’t wait to REALLY start to vacation!!
I am fit and ready. The carafe of sangria we had with dinner last night eased everything too. I know what I am ready to do and knowing I am here racing against the top 2% in the world actually eases any pressure. Just have to stay in control and do. Been here before and I am at ease with everything. Father’s Day is celebrated here on Sunday too which means think about Pops memory and Gina even brought down a picture of Arthur for us to keep company. WE can do this. The photo on my bike computer is what I’ll be able to see during the cycling segment (photo) – she is my rock. (and she is getting me a pint of gelato when I finish!)
Let’s rock MATES!!!

Gina had made a nice chicken/fettuccine pasta for dinner when we got back from Mass. Funny side note: so we took a cab the 6 miles to church. Cost us $30 and we were somewhat livid but we booked a round trip and didn’t care to spend that much coming back. Whatever right? Well Mass was nice as it was held in the school gym since a new center is being built. Packed older crowd, awesome simply and great community. So we are waiting outside afterwards for the cab and we had a family offer us a ride. No thanks we had a cab coming. Then this pure Aussie named Roscoe comes next and literally insist after knowing I was racing. He said “Ge in Mates” opening the doors of his car, almost shoving us in. Much thank ya mate! The conversation was hilarious and there was even a reference to the movie Con Air. Must have covered like 10 different conversation subjects. We were home in 5 minutes. Blessings. We were all set and in bed by 9. Actually had no thoughts or worries about the race itself at all. Well, maybe just my little “surprise” for Gina.

We both slept pretty good and deep for race day. Up we were at 3:30 and ready to go. Gina tattooed my race numbers, and I got all set. Gina had her gear too (photo). We were out the door by 4:30. The crew took some of us to the start where I then set everything up with my bike, checked tires, secured Xrcel hydration, etc.  We did NOT have access to our gear bags though. Weather was 54 degrees and I was bundled up and lathered in Aquaphor. But warm.  Water temperature was 69 degrees. Ocean currents minimal. Looks good but could mean the chills early. Game plan within the game plan.
Soon the chaos that 3000 Type A athletes swarm upon the area begins. Tension. Nerves, crazy. All fun to watch. We were cool, calm, collective. Snuggling up, going over the game plan. I was in Wave 9 and with an in water start (your age group swims out some 50 yards and starts in water) gave me a chance to watch how other waves progressed. Since mine had most people in it, I made the plan to start in back and just be safe from the thrashing. The sun came up, the waves started, and game was on. Soon was my call. Gave a big kiss and hug to Gina and made my way to the line up.
Game on. 3 deep breaths. I adjust goggles. They give you 5 minutes to get to start. The first few strokes in the water and you know it’s cold. Breaststroke and stay in the back. Now focus ahead. Let’s do this. Horn sounds and we are off. Water was a bit warmer further out, but still cold. Leak in right side goggle cause head too low in water – ocean swims different than lake yo. Keep head up. Water is really very salty. One gulp and you learn that. Much better. Some big swells and waves but no human contact so all good. Caught a few waves coming into shore which felt like I was surfing. Mind warmed up, now it’s time to get to the bike. Slow, but controlled 1.2 mile swim: 32 minutes
Transition area was a joke. So long length wise, made you go so far to get everything. A jammed area for 3000 athletes. Then had to strip off wetsuit, get in your gear, drop off bag, then shuffle a bit more just to get to your bike, then shuffle more just to get started. Long transitions times for all, almost 7 minutes! Anyway, off and onto bike we go: fast. Nice start felt good. Everyone did. But there were many packs of 10-20 people drafting each other which is illegal. Course marshals where flagging some, but there were still A LOT. And it wasn’t safe. Me, play it safe as I eased off the throttle a bit and just tried not to be the one to wrongfully get a penalty getting caught near a pack. Stupid. After mile 20, weather was real nice and warm, but the winds picked up. And hills. And some serious hills: like an 18% grade a 1/4 mile long that hits you by surprise, and if in the wrong gear, you walk it up. Many post race stories of people falling down, breaking chains, etc. here. Even 40 other getting DNF for not riding the correct laps! Laps? Yep, then you get to lap again and hit another round, and one more. The roads were rough too so danger beware. Wacko riders risk everything and still try to blast by. Nope. Solid control.
Then it’s back to the motorway and crank up the throttle again with speed the last 15 miles back into town. I was very pleased with my ride despite the slow time. Was nice within the zone and in my head zone. Given the nature of the illegal rider packs and challenging course, I’ll take it. No flats, no issues, no problems, so get ready and let’s run. Bike 56 miles in 2:53.
Transition to run just as long. You shuffle in your bike shoes rack the bike, then grab gear and wait…. Walk down steps into a grass area to change, then back up a small hill drop off bag and off you go. Crazy stupid setup. I got something caught on the bottom of my left foot that stayed lodged in there and felt like it was pulling the bottom of my foot off. Cautious, But I was rolling. Tracking my kilometers at 4-4:30 cue was comfortable. I made sure my foot was okay after a few miles, and then just steady state the whole way. Nice looping course, passing plenty of folks. Oh and remember Roscoe? He was out there with a crew at a cheer station around mile 4/8. Gave him a big high-5 mate. But I had total control. Hills – no issue. Dialed in and put mind on hold. Enjoyed every minute of it – why?? Cause I was carrying something special!
See, 10 years ago, I qualified for the 1st annual 70.3 WC in Clearwater, FL. I proposed to Gina at the finish line, so here, halfway around the world, I had a wooden ring with Malachite within. Celebrating 10 years and this was indeed my final 70.3 WC. Also since our 6th anniversary is in October, and well, we were finally on our honeymoon, lets repeat this thing. Even more reason to make sure I finished. I just thought about all those years during that run. I told her to make sure she was right near the finish line. With a mile to go, I got the package out and as I turned the corner just before the finish, and there she was. I stopped, walked over to her. Presented her the ring and told her - “10 years ago I proposed then, so now, let’s repeat this, forever with me.” We hugged, big kiss and she said “Now go finish!!”  I finished the 13.1 mile run in 1:30 for a total grand time of 5:09.  Slow for me, but I exerted the right effort on this day, against the best, and was pleased with it. Looking at my splits – I executed a nice “pyramid scheme”!
I was a sweaty salty mess, but Gina and I now just wanted to celebrate. We spent the rest of the day walking a bunch more, cleaning up, soaking our legs in the Pacific again, dropping off the bike, getting my stinky gear bags back, shower, rehashing our day’s adventure, and having a nice local dinner out. And GELATO!!!!!
So though my legs are a bit sore and my neck hurts from the big Flava Flave finishers’ medal I was wearing for a few hours, all is good. I’ll be more sore tomorrow, but I’ll be walking and swimming a lot since we have 3 days here. MOOLOOLABA time and a few more sangria’s to roam.
The link to Gina’s quote and special present:  https://twitter.com/ironsherpa1/status/772261996196528128
We spent the next few days taking 2 mile walks in the morning, stretch out, breakfasts on our patio, then visited the Australian Zoo which was awesome (roos, koalas, crocs, birds, rhinos yeah!), took a tour of the famous Eumundi city market (basically a whole town marketplace and which was Gina’s element), more wine, and some great dinners locally. An all around great vacation and many blessing that come with it. An experience indeed. Despite the long flight home – we chased daylight and basically has 2 Thursdays leaving in the morning and getting home that afternoon – we got home SAFE. I’ll never understand why airlines on those long flights think all people want to do is eat and drink and thus bum-rush the bathrooms and ransack the whole airplane a mess. We both managed to get some quick naps in – more so on the LA-CLT flight as by then we were sleep deprived. Once in the door thanks to our speedy cabby we could have swore was from NY the way he drove, we first looked for our boy Holmes. Once we knew he was okay and cuddled him a bit, we knew we were officially back home.
I want to thank all of TEAMMC for their thoughts and support this year once again. Also to Polar, AAA Carolinas, Kristina at Rita’s ICE Plaza-Midwood, Xrcel, Ryan at Clean Bottle, Jessica Marriott at Sports Massage Therapy, Lori, Coach Janelle and crew at Let Me Run, Dmitri and Alice at The Philadelphia Diner for the awesome home cooked foods. Shout outs also to TriBike Transport for the ease of getting the Black Widow over to Australia and back! Wow no hassle at all!! Highly recommend triathletes for those big trips! Thanks to our travel agency and tour hosts Ken and Christine Glah at Endurance Travel Sports (www.endurancesportstravel.com) for a great time organizing all our race needs and transport. Also to Eimear Goggin and Jody Dennis for the Holmes care, Dawn McCarthy for her expertise with advising in Gina’s surprise, and Brad and the Mintz crew for all their support (and borrowing of the universal charger port). Blessings indeed yo.

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